Showdown looms between tennis supremo Novak Djokovic and Australian Open bosses as Victoria health chief warns him and other anti-jab stars to ‘get vaccinated or else’
- Victoria’s sports minister has said international tennis stars should get the jab
- Martin Pakula said being vaccinated gives them the best chance to compete
- Also warned of added restrictions for any players who aren’t double-jabbed
- But superstar world no.1 Novak Djokovic is openly opposed to the Covid vaccine
International tennis stars have been urged to get vaccinated if they are serious about playing in next year’s Australian Open.
Victoria’s sports minister has warned players they face losing the chance to play in Melbourne during the tournament if they’re unvaccinated, or if they are allowed to do so – be forced to abide by tough restrictions.
‘If I was an ATP or WTA player, I’d be getting vaccinated,’ Martin Pakula told SEN.
‘That will give them the best opportunity to play in the Australian Open with the more minimal restrictions that might be in place for those people.’
International tennis stars are being urged to get vaccinated by Victoria’s sports minister if they want to play in the Australian Open (pictured, mens world no.1 Novak Djokovic)
The Victorian government this month introduced a vaccine requirement for authorised workers, which includes professional sportspeople.
Tennis Australia has yet to reveal detailed plans around how the players will arrive for the summer of tennis, and what rules will apply for them in Melbourne.
Ahead of the US Open at the end of August, around 50 per cent of ATP and WTA tour players had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Victoria’s vaccination mandate could rule world No.1 Novak Djokovic out of vying to become the outright record holder for most grand slam titles.
A vaccine mandate may force Novak Djokovic out of the tournament, after he openly opposed the jab (pictured, Djokovic pictured with wife Jelena)
Djokovic is tied with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20 grand slam wins, but the world No.1 would start as hot favourite to make it 21 in January given he has won a record nine finals at Melbourne Park.
The Serbian superstar has made clear his intentions on vaccination.
‘I’m opposed to vaccination, and I wouldn’t want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine in order to be able to travel,’ he said in April 2020.
Pakula said it was too early to say how governments and tennis authorities dealt with unvaccinated tennis players from overseas.
The Victorian government introduced a vaccine mandate for authorised workers earlier this month which includes sportspeople (pictured, Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne)
‘Whether or not unvaccinated people are allowed in (to Australia) at all, I don’t know the answer to that yet,’ he said.
‘That’s going to be the subject, I suspect, of discussion at national cabinet and amongst the federal cabinet.
‘As for the rules that might apply around the Australian Open, specifically, we’re in discussions with Tennis Australia and the department of health about that.’
Players were required to undertake two weeks quarantine ahead of this year’s Open, but have been able to travel around the world freely for the majority of the season.